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| Last Updated:: 05/10/2017

Centre approves setting up a turtle sanctuary in Allahabad










New Delhi:  Amid uncertainty over the fate of existing turtle sanctuary in Varanasi, the government has given its go ahead for setting up a new centre to conserve this aquatic creature in Allahabad. 




Idea of this project - called 'Developing River Biodiversity Park and Turtle Conservation Programme' - along Ganga-Yamuna river system in Allahabad is to protect rich aquatic biodiversity of both the rivers and preserve all those species which act as natural cleaning agents. 




Turtles, being carnivorous, can help scavenge half-burnt corpses and naturally aid in cleaning the river water. 




The project, approved by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), includes a Turtle Rearing Centre (permanent nursery at Triveni Pushp and makeshift annual hatcheries) in Allahabad. It also includes setting up a river biodiversity park at Sangam (confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati). 




The clearance to this Rs 1.34 crore project was given by an executive committee, headed by the NMCG's director general U P Singh, last week. "The centre in Allahabad will, however, not be a 'sanctuary' in technical terms as notification of sanctuary has certain legal connotations and it may then restrict works on waterways", said an official. 




The Allahabad project will be in addition to a rescue and rehabilitation centre for turtles at Sarnath near Varanasi which the government had set up through Wildlife Institute of India (WII) under the NMCG's biodiversity project. 




The turtle sanctuary in Varanasi was set up in 1989 under the Ganga Action Plan-I. Its fate, however, remains uncertain at present as there has been discussion within the Union environment ministry over demands of its de-notification. 




Though the Varanasi centre continues to be a 'sanctuary', there has been demand from certain quarters to de-notify it on the ground that the ongoing sand extraction on one side leads to increased pressure on the 'ghats' which may lead to their caving in. They argue that sand removal from the other side is not possible due to area being notified as 'sanctuary'. 




On the other hand, there are studies which show that sand extraction on the convex side is not affecting the ghats' stability in any way. It also indicates that the 'sanctuary' notification and consequent restrictions on the activities in the area has led to growth of vegetation on the other side. 




"A final decision in this regard will be taken by the environment ministry", said an official of the water resources ministry. 




The Allahabad project will provide much needed platform to make the visitors (at biodiversity park) aware of their place in the ecosystem and their roles and responsibilities. It'll also improve their understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources. 




The water resources ministry in its statement on Wednesday noted that the sustenance of more than 2000 aquatic species including threatened gharials, dolphins and turtles in river Ganga exemplifies the rich biodiversity of this lifeline to over 40% of the country's population. 




Rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles (Batagur kachuga, Batagur dhongoka, Nilssonia gangetica, Chitra indica and Hardella thurjii) and other aquatic animals such as Gangetic dolphin, Gharial and numerous migratory and resident birds.









Source: The Times of India